The Catholic Church certainly doesn't like the Greens ( Actually the Sex Party has a far more virulent ant-church stance than the Greens) but that is nothing new. Elder intervened in the same manner as Henrietta Cook points out in the last state election. It is also a stance that goes hand in hand with the views of conservative catholic commentators like the odious Gerard Henderson who is also very anti-Green as is Tony Abbott. Of course the Catholic Church in Australia has been telling it's parishioners how to vote for years. Mannix was anti- conscription and the church strongly backed the DLP against Labor in the 50s-60s helping to keep Menzie's in power. I've written about Elder before so I won't go there again but he is an ex...in fact failed Liberal politician from the Kennett era so I suppose his hostility to the Greens and to Gonski is understandable.
Like The Greens spokesperson it is a puzzle why they are turning their backs on Gonski reform. I can think of a few struggling Catholic primaries especially in the country who would greatly benefit from the additional funding and the chance to hire more widely? I wonder what would have happened if the government had sent home letters to families suggesting that they vote for parties that support Gonski? The union ( AEU and others) have come out in support and provided signs, badges and information flyers to that effect. I guess if the AEU can then Elder can too?
I believe that Catholic schools which receive tax payers money should be non-discriminatory and not only that but also more transparent with how they spend their funding. Just as people say as an argument for state funding of private schools, 'I pay my taxes, I want that money going to the school of my choice' I would say 'I pay my taxes and I want money that I pay to schools spent wisely and I don't want to see teachers discriminated against because of gender, religious beliefs or sexual preferences because they are not treated that way in the state system'. Seems fair?
I wonder how much impact these letters have and wonder if they are actually counter-productive?
Story from WA Today and the Age from Henrietta Cook.
The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria has circulated a letter to schools in marginal seats, seats where MPs are retiring and electorates where the Greens are hoping for a win.
These include Batman – which the Greens hope to pick up thanks to its rapidly changing demographic– and the Greens-held seat of Melbourne. The letters were also stuffed into school bags in Wills, Corangamite, La Trobe, Bruce, Chisholm
The Commission's executive director Stephen Elder said in the letter that the Greens' stance on funding for Catholic schools was "highly problematic".
He criticised the Greens' model because in addition to basing funding on socio-economic measures, it would consider a school's resources and its capacity to generate income from other sources including fees and contributions.
"Such a shift would adversely impact many Catholic schools and the potential flow-on effect to fees would undermine our ability to welcome disadvantaged students and their families into our educational community," he said. The letter was distributed on Thursday and Friday as schools broke for the holidays.
Mr Elder also criticised the Greens for seeking to "abolish our ability to hire staff on religious grounds".
"Their education policy explicitly applies this proposal by linking government funding for Catholic schools to 'non-discrimination in the hiring of staff'," he said.
He said this could lead to Catholic principals being forced to employ staff who were critical of their faith. Their plan was an "affront to the religious liberties currently exercised by the Church and our schools."
Mr Elder said there was a "real chance" the Greens could hold the balance of power which could put the major parties' education commitments at risk.
He urged parents to remember that Labor and the Liberals were committed to ongoing and stable funding for Catholic schools.
Greens education spokesman Senator Nick McKim said it was extraordinary that the Catholic Education Commission was advocating for the Liberals over the Greens, when the Liberals refused to fund the final two years of the Gonski school funding agreement.
"The Greens do support that funding, which means under Greens policies, Catholic schools would be significantly better resourced than they would under the Liberals," he said.
He said it was not surprising that Mr Elder, a former state Liberal MP, was attacking the Greens.
"Parents who choose to send their children to Catholic schools are more than capable of making up their own minds on how to vote and do not need a lecture from Mr Elder."
It is not the first time the Catholic Education Commission has intervened in an election – they advised parents not to vote for the Greens in four inner-city seats ahead of the 2014 state election.